“An explosion that Syria state television called a suicide bomb attack killed at least three top aides to President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday,” the N.Y. TimesNeil MacFarquhar and Dalal Mawad reported a couple of hours ago, “including the defense minister and Mr. Assad’s powerful brother-in-law.”

“The blast in Damascus, after three days of fighting in the capital, hit at the very military structure that has been directing the harsh repression of the 17-month-old uprising against Mr. Assad’s rule.

“The assassinations were the first of such high-ranking members of the elite since the revolt began and could represent a turning point in the conflict, analysts said. The nature and target of the attack strengthened the opposition’s claims that its forces have been marshaling strength to strike at the close-knit centers of state power.”